Hands On: Carl Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 for Canon (Still and Video Samples)

Cinematographers—want some of amazing looking bokeh for your Canon DSLR? Well, I was able to get a quick test with the Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 for Canon mount at Photo Plus Expo 2010. Overall, I really was very impressed with the lens and actually was feeling very envious. Even though I’ve got a Canon 35mm F/1.4 L, the new Zeiss lens just felt leaps and bounds better.

Technical specifications

Focal length                                    35 mm

Aperture range                                     f/1.4 – f/16

Number of elements/groups             11/9

Focusing area                                    0.3 m – infinity

Angular field** (diag./horiz./vert.) 63/54/37 °

Coverage at close range             18 x 12 cm (close-up)

Image ratio at close range            1:5 (close-up)

Filter thread                                    M 72 x 0.75

Weight                                                830 – 850 g

Length with caps                        120 – 122 mm

Diameter                                    78 mm

Mounts                                                 ZF.2 (F bayonet)

ZE (EF bayonet)


The Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 is an almost all metal lens that feels just like one of those wonderful older lenses from the classic days of film. Granted, there seems to be modern updates like the focusing meter and the electronic contacts but it feels worth every penny that it costs.

Perhaps the only things I found to be a bit quirky with the lens are just how large the focusing ring is and the the ring with markings below that. This ring has textured/lined grooves on it that makes it feel synonymous to an aperture ring. Since this is a Canon mount lens, it doesn’t have an aperture ring.

The focusing ring is enormous though; making it great for users with different sized hands. Only part of it has the grooves ridges and the upper part of it is actually very smooth. Why Zeiss designed the lens like this is beyond me, but it does indeed seem to work very well. Then I began to think about it: this will help cinematographers and indie filmmakers with follow-focus tremendously!

One more really cool thing: it focuses just a bit closer than the Canon version does. Granted, it’s all manual focusing.

As I’ve heard with all Zeiss lenses, focusing manually can actually be a bit hard unless you get the right focusing screen.

Image Samples

The Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 is available for order at B&H.

Video Sample with Canon 5D Mk II

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.